Recently, I had a chance to go up into the mountains, about 25 miles past the last house, right to the end of the road. I then walked to a ridge where I could see dark clouds hovering over the peaks, blotting out the sunrise. There was a hint of rime frost on the shady side of fallen trees. The woods were quiet, not a sound of life could be heard, no pine squirrel ventured chatter, no raven squawked overhead on random patrol, not a raucous jay had a thing to say… nothing, completely quiet and still. Just what I was looking for, a chance to get away from people, problems, routines, in order to have alone-time in God’s great expanse.
In the reverie of the moment and the pleasure of the solitude, I lost myself in the satisfying reminiscence of similar escapes, not always in the mountains, sometimes in the distance of the desert, or in the confines of a canyon, or even in the sounds of a stream… solace. Then I heard a sound that jerked me back to the present. It was a single note, clear and concise, not distinctly beautiful, but a pure note of identity from high in the trees that said, “This is who I am. I’m a bird that lives here.” In an obvious blunder of alpine etiquette I looked up at the bird and spoke out loud,” My goodness, little bird, you sure are a long way from home!”
Then I realized how strange I was acting… talking to a bird. But it served to get me thinking who I was and where I fit in my world. I didn’t belong here, I was only visiting. As much as I enjoy the temporary isolation, I was created for fellowship, for talking, for sharing my life, for being a part of people like me. God had that purpose in mind from the beginning when He walked in fellowship with Adam. Sin broke that relationship, but in time He sent His Son to pay the sin penalty so we can now share in close fellowship with our creator. In His love God helped man to see “it is not good to be alone:” and created a life partner. The family was structured to give security and an earthly relationship of interdependent love to satisfy the longing heart to belong: to fit.
How good it is that this need to relate to others did not stop just with our families. The Lord knew how much we needed each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. When the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us at salvation we find we belong to His family in a unique way. When we begin to relate to each other we respond like a body. When we hurt others feel it, and can respond with comfort. When we are happy others can rejoice with us and give a handshake or a hug. True feelings are expressed and we become a part of the “one another” referred to in Scripture; love one another, forgive one another, pray for one another, and on down the list of relating to one another, because we belong to a spiritual family.
Why do some of us become loners and think we don’t need to be with our spiritual family? Sometimes rejection and hurt causes us to guard our heart’s door and let few people enter. Misunderstanding and unforgiveness isolate us from each other. Prejudice and pride make us a loser in a lonely world of our own making. The Word says we are not to neglect our gathering together, so we could admonish, warm, and encourage one another (Heb 10:25). We all know down within that we are not created to live alone, to be isolated, and to think we don’t need each other.
If you have built barriers around your life, if you are tempted to distrust others, if you have tried to escape the real world of relationship and live in isolation, consider God’s provision to meet your real need. You don’t have to live at the end of the road, a long way from home.
(Pastor Elston doing zip line in his yard in his 80s)
(Pastor Elston heading back up hill)
[Retired pastor, Allen Elston, has graciously given me permission to reprint a collection of inspiring newsletter articles he authored from 1994-1996 (like the one above), which will be included in upcoming posts. I thank him for his generosity.]